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College Education Linked to Healthy Food Preferences, Offspring Study

Update Date: Sep 18, 2014 04:25 PM EDT

Kids of college-educated parents eat significantly more vegetables and drink significantly less sugary beverages, according to researchers.

Researchers said the latest findings suggest that parental educational attainment, which is often linked to socioeconomic status, could predict children's food preferences.

After monitoring students from a Vancouver school, researchers found that kids whose parents completed some post-secondary education were 85 percent more likely to eat vegetables during the school week compared to those with less educated parents.

The study also revealed that children whose parents graduated from college were 67 percent less likely to drink sugary beverages.

"We can only speculate on the reasons for the disparities," study author Jennifer Black, a food, nutrition and health professor in the Faculty of Land and Food Systems, said in a news release. "Higher priced products, like vegetables, may not be the food that gets packed first for vulnerable families that need to make tough choices about school lunches."

However, children of all socioeconomic status did not consume adequate amounts of low-fat milk or whole grains on school days. The study revealed that the majority of children preferred foods high in sodium and saturated fat like chips and fries.

"While there are still barriers that exist for low-income children, families from across the socioeconomic spectrum are struggling to get their kids to eat healthy food at school," said Black.

"Our findings challenge this common notion that only low-income families feed their kids junk food because it appears wealthy families are not always making healthier choices either," she concluded.

The study "Associations between socio-economic status and school-day dietary intake in a sample of grade 5-8 students in Vancouver, Canada, took place at 26 public schools in 2012" was published in the journal Public Health Nutrition

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